Posted on Jun 08, 2017 in Employment by Noele McClelland
With the General Election 2017 taking place today the Thorntons Employment Law team examines the implications of an MP losing office and the result of the General Election on employment matters currently being considered by the UK Parliament.
Loss of Office
An MP’s loss of political office has implications aside from the local community and the make-up of the UK Parliament. Staff working for MPs have their fortunes intertwined with that of the MP who stands for election. If an MP is re-elected then staff employment continues as normal. If an MP fails to be elected then staff no longer have an employer and will be made redundant. They may be retained by an MP until the 8 of July to help close down parliamentary functions and depending on when they are made redundant may be paid up to two months following the election result. No payment or reward or recognition may be made after the General Election. Staff working for an MP who fails to retain office are entitled to redundancy pay even if they become an MP or move on to work for another MP.
The individual MP is themselves responsible for making staff redundant and the closing of their office. In order to cover the costs of loss of office, a winding up allowance may be claimed by former MPs to help with the costs of terminating staff contracts, ending leases in offices and removing furniture. A settlement allowance may also be claimed which is equivalent of a month’s salary for every year of service and this is capped at six months.
Redundancy can be a difficult process for former employees. The House of Commons has an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which provides a confidential helpline for staff to discuss personal and professional issues following redundancy.
The Outcome of the Election
The matter of zero-hour contracts and the gig-economy have both remained controversial issues in the courts and in Parliament. The Prime Minister commissioned an Independent Review into Employment Practices in the Modern Community in October 2016. The Conservatives have committed to continuing the review and that, on its conclusion, the interests of all employees, whether on traditional contracts or working in the gig economy, will be protected. The Labour party has pledged to ban zero-hour contracts and extend employment rights to all ‘workers’ regardless of their status of employment in order to prevent companies such as Deliveroo claiming that their drivers are self-employed. The Liberal Democrats would create a right for workers to request a fixed-term contract and modernise employment rights. The SNP would ban zero-hour contracts and extend holiday and sick-pay to workers in the gig economy.
The Parental Bereavement Leave (Statutory Entitlement) Bill was introduced as a private members bill in September 2016 with no further progress being made on the progression of the Bill. It is unclear whether the Bill will be revived following the General Election however statutory bereavement leave is considered in the Conservative and the Labour manifesto. The Conservative manifesto has pledged to provide a statutory right to child bereavement but does not specify any duration for leave or whether it will be paid. The Bill as it currently stands provides for a fixed or weekly rate of pay to be set by Regulations. The Labour manifesto also sets out a plan to introduce legislation for statutory bereavement.
The issue of tribunal fees in England has been addressed by Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats during this election campaign and all three parties have pledged to abolish the fees which were highly criticised in reports from both the House of Commons Justice Committee and the Women and Equalities Select Committee. The Conservative manifesto has not addressed the issue.